[Cellar Talks] S04E03 South America – Amanda Barnes

On Saturday the 4th of December we are joined by Amanda Barnes, for the third edition in our regular season of Cellar Talks. Amanda is a journalist, wine writer and expert on South American wine countries. Recently she published her extensive guide through South America’s major wine countries and regions; The South America Wine Guide. Together we will talk about her career in wine, her book and South America as a wine region.

About South America

Although ancient grape seed fossils have been discovered in Peru, the Vitis vinifera grapevine used for winemaking is not considered to be native to South America. The Americas are part of the New World of wine, first planted with grapevines for winemaking by Columbus in 1493 on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, the place where the Spanish flagship had first touched the shores of this unknown continent the previous year.

Over the five centuries that followed, vines, European culture and immigration rippled through the Americas, bringing wine production to most corners of both North and South America — although succeeding in relatively few. It was in Peru that wine production first really took off in South America, after the first vineyards were planted in 1539. Vineyards and wine production also took root in Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. These six countries make 99.9% of South America’s wine today.

South America was the first major wine producer outside of Europe and the Mediterranean Basin and still makes a tenth of the world’s wine, and yet its wine regions remain among the least documented and understood. Few wine professionals around the world could begin to explain the enormous family of Criolla grape varieties that thrive there, or tell you what the difference is between Torrontés Riojano and Torrontés Sanjuanino, or how the País wines from Bio Bio differ from those from Itata. Brazil’s mouth-watering high-altitude wines still fly low in global recognition and only those in the know have had the fortune to taste the rare splendour of a Bolivian Vischoqueña. The depths and complexities of South American wine are still off the radar for most wine drinkers — which makes discovering them all the more exciting. 

Although the seeds of wine production were sown at a very similar time in most of the wine countries of South America, each of them has developed their own particular wine culture and story, shaped by their human and geographical topography. South America is a wine continent full of surprises and this guide will accompany you on your own adventure of discovery.

About Amanda Barnes

Amanda Barnes is an award-winning wine and travel writer and the author of The South America Wine Guide — the definitive guide to the wines of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. Born and raised in Hampshire, England, she has a degree in Comparative Literature from King’s College and went on to complete a masters in journalism while writing for British newspapers. 

In 2009, Amanda moved to South America to focus on wine writing and has since become a sought-after specialist in the wines of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. She contributes to the world’s leading wine publications, including Decanter and The World Atlas of Wine. Amanda won both the Peter Hampson Memorial Prize and the Derouet Jameson Prize for her outstanding results while completing the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Diploma and is she currently studying to become a Master of Wine. Amanda was also awarded the Geoffrey Roberts Award for her contribution to New World wine, and has received writing awards from the Millésima Blog Awards, Wine Writers Symposium and Born Digital Wine Awards. She is also the editor of the Circle of Wine Writers’ monthly publication and a wine judge for several International wine competitions, including Decanter World Wine Awards.

About the South America Wine Guide

The world’s most comprehensive guide to the wines of South America, detailing the wine regions, wines and producers of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Peru over the course of 528 pages. 

The South America Wine Guide is the result of a decade of research and interviews conducted by Amandawhile travelling around and living on the continent. In collaboration with over 60 regional specialists, The bookcomprehensively details over 70 wine regions and maps out in stunning detail 40 wine regions. With charismatic and engaging writing, Amanda explores 500 years of wine history and insightfully puts the wines of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and beyond into context today. 

The guide features winemaker and winery profiles, wine region and travel guides, and a curated list of each region’s best wines — the top ‘Terroir Selection’ of just 403 wines that made the cut from among the more than 2,500 wines tasted. With thorough maps, beautiful photography and a personal introduction to the continent’s best winemakers and wines, this is the essential guide to South American wine.

We are looking forward to talking to Amanda and learning from her experiences, new book and South America as a wine region. Be sure to tune in on Instagram Live through our Dutch Wine Apprentice account on Saturday the 4th of December, 19:30h CET.

Click here for instructions on how to follow a live show on Instagram Live. If you have questions for our guest you are welcome to prepare them and e-mail them to us or send them as a direct message on our Instagram account.

You can find a link to the recording of the show here.